He and his teammates have been to this point before. Senior Matthew Hurt and the Rochester John Marshall Rockets are one win away from advancing to the state tournament. Will this be the year that one of the top players in state history makes his debut at the tourney? The Rockets have fallen in the 1AAAA finals each year of Hurt's prep career to Lakeville North.

Awaiting JM in Thursday's final? Lakeville North.

The Rockets methodically pulled away from New Prague in Monday night's weather-postponed section semifinal, played at a packed auditorium at the Mayo Civic Center. The Trojans kept it respectable, but JM left little doubt who would prevail, coming away with a 69-56 win. Hurt scored 44 points.

Hurt will undoubtedly play on television in his career. The highly-recruited five-star player is yet to announce which big-time college basketball program he will commit to. He's on record as saying after one year he plans to enter the NBA. But the chance to play on channel 45 during the state tournament remains elusive.

Thursday's final is at 8 pm at the Mayo Civic Arena. Hurt will face fellow-Mr. Basketball finalist Tyler Wahl of the Panthers. North pulled away from Lakeville South 56-47 in Monday's other section semifinal, played at Farmington High School.

The Section 1AAA semifinals Monday in the arena saw top-seed Austin and No. 2 Northfield reach the championship game. The Packers went on a big run early in the second half after a cold-shooting first half to beat Red Wing 67-40. The Raiders rallied late for a 66-64 victory over Winona. The Austin-Northfield game tips off at 6 pm Thursday.

Thursday is also the night the Section 2AAA title will be decided when Waseca meets Mankato East at 7 pm at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter.

Section 1A and 1AA games are Wednesday, March 13 at the Mayo Civic Center. The smaller schools will be in the auditorium. Spring Grove plays Hayfield at 5:30 pm, followed by Randolph against Rushford-Peterson at 8 pm. The second game will be on KDHL AM 920 and the KDHL app.

The AA teams play in the arena. Lake City versus LaCrescent at 6 pm, followed by Caledonia against St. Charles at approximately 7:30 pm. The winners in A and AA play Friday, March 15 for the section finals.


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